Google is building a new Googleplex

Google occupies some of the most famous offices in the world—think cafés everywhere you look, treadmills with laptops attached to them, pool tables and bowling alleys, green buildings, and vegetable gardens—but not one of the places in which the company’s 35,000+ employees work has been built by the company. The core of the “Googleplex,” as the headquarters in Mountain View, California, is generally known, consists of a suburban office park once occupied by Silicon Graphics that Google remodeled to suit its needs; in New York, Google occupies (and owns) the enormous former Port Authority headquarters in Chelsea. The company has been similarly opportunistic around the world, taking over existing real estate and, well, Google-izing it. “We’ve been the world’s best hermit crabs: we’ve found other people’s shells, and we’ve improved them,” David Radcliffe, a civil engineer who oversees the company’s real estate, said to me. Under Radcliffe, the company’s home base in Mountain View has expanded to roughly 65 buildings.
For the last year or two, Google has been toying with taking the plunge and building something from scratch. In 2011 it went so far as to hire the German architect Christophe Ingenhoven to design a brand new, super-green structure on a site next to the Googleplex, but that was a false start: the company abandoned the project a year later, when it decided to build in another part of Mountain View, closer to San Francisco Bay, and went looking for another architect. Now Google has partnered with the Seattle-based firm NBBJ, a somewhat more conventional choice. And the renderings of the new project, which Google has made available to Vanity Fair, show something that looks, at first glance, like an updated version of one of the many suburban office parks that Google has made a practice of taking over and re-doing for its own needs.
The more you look at the complex, however, the more intriguing it is. The new campus, which the company is calling Bay View, consists of nine roughly similar structures, most of which will be four stories high, and all of which are shaped like rectangles that have been bent in the middle. The bent rectangles are arranged to form large and small courtyards, and several of the buildings have green roofs. All of the structures are connected by bridges, one of which will bring people directly to one of the green roofs that has been done up with an outdoor café and gathering space. And cars, the bane of almost every suburban office complex, including the Googleplex, are hidden away.